NATO and terrorism
Slovenia, in its determined quest to join NATO, believes the expansion of the Western alliance will strengthen the fight against terrorism.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel is making that argument in meetings this week with State Department officials and congressional leaders.
“I shall try to persuade senators to support Slovenia’s membership in NATO,” said Mr. Rupel, a former Slovenian ambassador to the United States.
Slovenia, a nation of 2 million people on the Adriatic coast west of Italy and south of Austria, was nearly admitted in the first round of NATO expansion. Now, most specialists agree, it is one of the leading candidates among seven nations hoping for an invitation to join the alliance at the NATO summit next year in the Czech capital, Prague.
“Things are indeed changing after September 11,” he said. “What does humanity need at this moment? The expansion of the world of democracy, free enterprise, human rights.
“What we are doing [with the expansion of NATO] is the same thing we are doing in the anti-terrorism coalition.”
In Europe, Western values are moving east with the expected enlargement of NATO as well as the European Union.
“It’s a historic event. I don’t think it can be stopped,” he said.
Slovenia has promised to cooperate with the United States in all areas in the war on terrorism by sharing intelligence and reforming banking laws against money-laundering and controlling illegal immigration, he said.
He also said Slovenia has no problem with Russian membership in NATO, should Moscow decide to undertake the rigorous military and other reforms needed to join the alliance.
“Membership is no long such a political issue,” he said. “It is becoming a technical issue.”
Mr. Rupel is also updating U.S. officials on Slovenia’s efforts to join the European Union and reviewing the events in the Balkans, especially in Macedonia, where ethnic Albanian rebels are again threatening the stability of the country.
“Slovenia is very much concerned,” he said. “We are urging our friends on both side to work together. It is getting late for Macedonia.”
Israeli Prime Minister is planning to visit Washington next month to meet President Bush, a diplomatic source said yesterday.
Mr. Sharon, who canceled a scheduled visit last week, is expected to meet Mr. Bush during the week of Dec. 3, said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
Putin on terrorism
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will never forget the scenes of the hijacked airliners crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon acts that created global solidarity in the war against terrorism.
“Two months have passed since the appalling terrorist acts in New York and Washington,” he said at a Russian Embassy reception this week, “but myself and all of us still have in our mind’s eye the footage of this tragedy.”
He reiterated Russia’s commitment to fighting terrorism and praised the firefighters, police and other rescue workers for their “heroism and courage.”
The terrorists may have killed nearly 5,000 people, but they failed to achieve their ultimate goal, he said.
“Terrorists hoped to intimidate us, to take advantage of our differences between the countries and eventually split the world community,” he said. “But what they achieved was our consolidation and solidarity I would say a solidarity unheard of in the present history.”
“They tried to force a wedge between Christian and Muslim communities and to instigate the clash of civilizations. But they failed,” he said.
“Our common enemy has no nationality, no religion and no civilization.”
Kazakh double duty
Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United States has taken on the additional duties of representing his country in Canada.
Ambassador Kanat Saudabayev presented his diplomatic credentials last week to Canadian Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson. He later met with Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Mr. Saudabayev expressed hopes of increasing trade between the two countries. So far this year, Kazakhstan and Canada have done $27 million in business.
Mr. Saudabayev has been ambassador to the United States since January.